Mom, 33, is diagnosed with deadly skin cancer after daughter, 2, thought mole was a chocolate stain

A 33-year-old mom was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma after her toddler noticed what she thought was a ‘chocolate’ stain on her wrist. 

Amanda Eilian, of New York, visited her doctor in 2010 who initially dismissed the mole. But after much ‘pushing’ by Ms Eilian he finally agreed to remove it, though he continued to insist to the mother-of-four that it was ‘nothing.’

Just one day later, her doctor left a voicemail telling her the mole was actually melanoma, which affects approximately 100,600 Americans each year. 

Ms Eilian, now 47, said: ‘It was a great lesson — not the way you want to learn the lesson — of learning the importance of self-advocacy and taking a proactive role in your own health.

‘It takes a certain amount of self confidence to continue to push back, and frankly, I lacked it at the time, and still have to intentionally cultivate that knowledge that I know my body better than anyone else.’

Mother-of-four Amanda Eilian first noticed the dark mole on her wrist nearly two years before her daughter remarked on it, but her doctor repeatedly dismissed the spot

Amanda Eilian (left) knew the importance of sun safety and annual dermatologist visits and would perform skin self-checks periodically 

As a fair-skinned and light-eyed woman with a family history of melanoma, Ms Eilian, co-founder and partner in health and wellness investment firm _Able and investor who has stakes in Goop, Daily Harvest and The Wing, knew the importance of sun safety and annual dermatologist visits. 

So when she noticed a dark spot on her wrist nearly two years before her diagnosis, she asked her doctor to check it at least twice in previous annual skin exams but he told her it was fine multiple times. 

She told Today: ‘I had noticed… a spot on my right wrist, an unusual spot, probably the darkest spot on my body. I later learned [the color of the mole] was a common marker of skin cancer.’

However, Ms Eilian added: “[The doctor] had dismissed it and said, ‘Don’t worry about that.”‘

Finally in 2010, her worry grew following her two-year-old’s observation. 

She said: ‘My two-year-old pointed to the spot on my wrist, which she had never mentioned before, and said, “Chocolate, you have chocolate, Mommy.”

‘It was such an unusual thing for her to say and notice.’

The next time she visited the dermatologist, Ms Eilian, who joined the Melanoma Research Alliance’s board of directors after her diagnosis, asked him to remove it.

She said: ‘He dismissed my concern again. I said, “I’m uncomfortable, please take it off.”


‘After [my] pushing, he did take it off. But as he was taking it off, I distinctly remember him saying, “I’m just telling you right now this is nothing.”‘

But the next day, the doctor called Ms Eilian apologizing and telling her she had melanoma: ‘He was sorry, but in fact, it was something.’

The New Yorker quickly began seeing another doctor who took a biopsy, which revealed the melanoma was stage 2. 

She said: ‘It was a very, very scary thing to hear when I had two young children [at the time] at home.’ 

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that is less common than other types, but more dangerous – and in three percent of cases, the primary source of the cancer is unknown. 

The American Cancer Society estimates 100,600 people will be diagnosed with the cancer in 2024, accounting for five percent of all new cancers, and 8,300 people will die from it, accounting for 1.4 percent of cancer deaths.

The overall lifetime risk of getting the cancer is about three percent, or one in 33 people, but the risk increases if a person has a family history of the disease. 

In Ms Eilian’s case, her grandmother and aunt had been diagnosed with melanoma and several other people in her family had been diagnosed with less aggressive forms of skin cancer. 

Rates of new melanomas vary – in people younger than 50, they’ve been stable among women and have declined by about one percent per year in men since early 2000s. 

The five-year survival rate is 94 percent, but that drops to 35 percent for melanomas that have spread.

Annual full-body dermatological skin checks are recommended, but people can perform self-checks periodically at home. 

When conducting the examination, people should be on the look out for the ABCDEs of skin cancer. 

Annual full-body skin checks are recommended, but people can perform self-checks periodically at home. When conducting the exam, people should be on the look out for the ABCDEs of skin cancer

A is for asymmetry: Is the mole symmetrical all the way around? Melanomas are often uneven and have different sized and shaped halves. 

B is for border: Does the mole have clear borders? Melanomas are more likely to have irregular or jagged edges. 

C is for color: Is the color the same throughout the mole? Melanomas are more likely to have multiple shades.

D is for diameter: How big is the mole? Typically they should be the size of the end of a pencil and melanomas tend to be larger.

Lastly, E is for evolving: Has the mole changed over time? Most benign moles stay the same year-to-year, but melanomas can grow in size and shape and change colors over time.  

Following her diagnosis, Ms Eilian underwent surgery to remove the mole, but because of its location on her wrist, doctors said it would be difficult to remove the spot while getting wide enough clear borders to ensure all of the cancer was gone. 

Ms Eilian told Today: ‘There was concern that because of the amount of tissue they had to take out that there was a risk of me losing some functioning in my hand.

‘Thank goodness, I never had that problem. But surgery was a little bit delicate from that standpoint.’

Despite the concern, the operation was successful. The surgeon was able to remove the melanoma with clear margins and was also able to preserve complete function in her wrist and hand.

Ms Eilian did not need to undergo chemotherapy or any further treatment and has been recurrence free since 2010 – though she still visits the dermatologist for skin checks every three months.

She said: ‘I have been healthy. I feel very lucky.’ 

Following her ordeal, Ms Eilian underwent a health transformation, eating cleaner, exercising and meditating. 

She said: ‘I felt very frightened. Feeling like I was having some control in my own journey and in my own outcomes … gave me a lot of solace and was probably helpful in my recovery.’

While in remission, Ms Eilian said she still has her concerns: ‘When you have melanoma, it’s one of the risk factors for things like breast cancer… My grandmother had both breast cancer and melanoma. 

‘Overall, it has heightened my awareness of my need to be careful with my health.’

Inspired by her own health journey, Ms Eilian began to invest health and wellness companies to encourage people to be their own advocate and be proactive about their health. 

She added: ‘While I would never say I know as much about melanoma or dermatology as a doctor, I do know more about my body than anyone else.

‘Be persistent and be confident in yourself and your own observations.’

Because a family history raises the risk of melanoma, Ms Eilian said her children have now started to undergo skin checks, including the daughter who prompted her to recheck her mole.

Ms Eilian said: ‘I have to thank my now 15-year-old daughter for identifying it. She saved my life.’